I’ve got a question for perfectionist parents who strive to raise prodigies: Instead of pushing your kids to succeed, why don’t you try to perfect yourself instead?  Why don’t you start taking piano lessons for three hours a day?  Why don’t you devote yourself to mastering Mandarin?

For adults, the answer’s pretty obvious: There’s a huge opportunity cost of these extracurricular activities, and low expected payoff.   Sure, perfectionist parents could object, “You have to start young to excel in this task,” but that’s just another excuse for failure.  And a true perfectionist parent summarily dismisses all excuses for failure with: “You can do anything if you just put your mind to it.  Back to work.”

My challenge for perfectionist parents: Instead of trying to perfect your child, why not focus on perfecting your parenting – to show your children by constant example how reasonable, just, and loving one human being can be to another?